Advocate called for Sex Offenders to be Named and Published.

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Gordon_Harrison 41 (Photo credit: sagriffin305)

Children take part in an educational game teac...

Children take part in an educational game teaching them about the risks and causes of HIV. There are 15,000 children under the age of 15 living with HIV and AIDS in Swaziland. In many cases, these children have acquired the virus through mother-to-child transmission. However, sexual abuse is another causal factor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Gordon_Harrison 11 (Photo credit: sagriffin305)

Fans protest Michael Jackson's innocence in th...

Fans protest Michael Jackson’s innocence in the child molestation scandal in 2004 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CHILDREN‘S Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison has called for the names of sex offenders to be publicised in an effort to curb the crime, especially against children.

Gordon Harrison made the call against reports of more than 1,000 cases of sexual abuse of minors in April alone.

Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison (right) engages (from left) Zann Locke, youth coordinator at Rise Life Management Services; Richard Williams, manager of Early Childhood Development Services, and Marcia Erskine, chairperson of the Women’s Leadership Initiative at Wednesday’s workshop on child abuse prevention at the Wyndham hotel in Kingston. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

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“I think we are at a time when we need to start naming the predators so that we can take proactive steps towards preventing further harm at the hands of these predators amongst our children,” she said. “These steps collectively will send a strong message to would-be perpetrators and may even act as a deterrent to those who have not yet committed the act.”

Speaking at the opening ceremony of Wednesday’s child abuse prevention workshop at the Wyndham hotel in Kingston, Gordon Harrison said such sick minds should not be allowed to continue to prey on children.

“I have had the privilege to sit in on a counselling session involving convicted sex offenders and when you look into their eyes and listen to some of the things they say, it will send chills down your spine,” Gordon Harrison disclosed.

She related the startling revelation by one of the offenders that he generally preyed on children from ages three to seven.

“He said that he did that ‘because people would be very slow to believe them and even if people believe them and it led to a charge, the judge would never buy their evidence because he had a way of staring at them and intimidating them so that the child begins to stutter and the child would start to appear as if he or she is no longer credible,” she related.

She said establishing a sex offenders registry would track such persons.

“What we are saying is that once a person is convicted of a sex offence, he or she should be excluded from working in certain places, specifically where children are located as in the case of teachers who are convicted and are allowed to re-enter other institutions,” Gordon Harrison emphasised.

“Sexual abuse is occurring everywhere and although reports might indicate that it is more popular among those of a lower socio-economic backgrounds, those who are on the other side are also affected,” she added.

She is also concerned that not all cases are reported, for fear of shame on the families.

But she emphasised that everyone has a moral obligation to ensure that no child is abused.

According to Gordon Harrison, there were more than 10,000 cases of sexual abuse against children between 2007 and 2011.

“Sexual abuse is occurring everywhere. It is in our schools, regrettably. We are seeing students on students, and even more troubling for me is that we are seeing teachers on students. It’s in our communities. There are the area dons who continue to be a significant feature in this particular area and there are other influential people who prey on our children and the churches are not to be outdone because we do have predators in our churches and also in our homes where children should feel very safe and very secure,” Gordon Harrison stressed.

She warned parents to be more selective in terms of who they leave their children with.

“Parents need to start cultivating a culture of trust between themselves and their children and let them know that they can talk to them about anything as nothing is no longer taboo,” she added.

Meantime, Gordon Harrison said the scope of sexual abuse has been widened with the introduction of the Sex Offenders Act to include offences such as sexual grooming, grievous sexual assault, and sexual touching. As such, she said that it is now a crime for older persons to make sexual advances at or send suggestive texts or e-mails to males or females below 16 or to engage in any inappropriate sexual act with them.

She said that Government has a major role to play in terms of implementing strong policies to ensure that the perpetrators are adequately punished when they are found guilty.

The Child Care and Protection Act, she said, is a step in the right direction but admitted that she was eagerly awaiting the proposed amendments to the Evidence Act that will admit video-recorded evidence in the courtroom.

Wednesday’s workshop, which was themed ‘Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children — Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training, was hosted by the Women’s Leadership Initiative to increase awareness and expertise on the prevention of sexual abuse against children.

Participants included representatives of civic organisations, the public and private sector, child support agencies and human rights advocates.

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Name-them-_11489848#ixzz1vDT1uO8g

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